Until the grass grows out of the walls
(Translation by the blog author)
And: “The Confederation is suddenly considering taking nuclear power plants off the grid much later. It fears an electricity import problem after the breakdown of negotiations with the EU.”
According to the Tagesanzeiger article, the Confederation has begun talks with the operators of nuclear power plants about a possible extension of their operation from currently 50 to 60 years. There were apparently enough reasons for this, ranging from the question of security of supply due to the cancellation of negotiations for a framework agreement with the EU, to doubts about the feasibility of replacing nuclear power with renewable electricity. In addition, there would be considerations on the operator’s side on the economic aspects (explicitly: the financial benefits of operating old, depreciated plants). And, of course, the whole operation would be linked to safety criteria.
Not surprisingly, the reactions to this article were numerous and often virulent. By midday on 5 July, the “Tagi” had already published 285 letters to the editor. We would like to add two more arguments on nuclear safety, which clearly speak against an extension of the operation:
- Our energy minister repeatedly points out that the Confederation does not plan the duration of operation of nuclear power plants, but relies on the assessment of the continued operational safety by ENSI. However, this ignores the fact that there is no scientifically recognised reliable method for predicting the remaining service life of a nuclear reactor. The incidents that have occurred in the plants certainly give some indication. However, we have also learned from ENSI that it sometimes overlooks faults (assembly faults, maintenance faults) for years (our blog of 5 July 2021). And as we learned from the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents, serious disasters are unpredictable anyway. ENSI has therefore been given a mandate that cannot be fulfilled at all.
- Nuclear power plants are not fully verifiable in material terms, in particular some areas of the plant are not even accessible for measurements. In addition, experimental testing of reactor pressure vessels is only possible as long as irradiated test materials are still available. This has long since ceased to be the case at the Beznau nuclear power plant, so that the “tests” are now based solely on computer models. Consequently, the question of whether these models are comparable to reality remains open.
We therefore conclude that the extension of the operating licences for the four nuclear power plants still in operation in Switzerland is associated with clear risks, and that these risks are increasing year by year. In any case, no one will accept responsibility for them.
And what about the disposal of radioactive waste? Will it wait another 10 years? With what consequences?